You never know

The year was 1995.

We were both seventeen and hopelessly in love.  We’d started dating out of rebellion but in a way that only can be explained by God’s handiwork, we figured out that we weren’t going about things the right way.

A young youth leader named Aaron at church had invested his heart into my then boyfriend.  His love for people and Jesus was intoxicating.  Unlike anyone we’d ever known,  he had no filter for anything he said except the overwhelming grace and love of God.

So when we came to the point of wanting to change our course, he and his sweet young bride were the only people we knew that we felt like we could go to for some accountability and encouragement.

Seniors in high school who loved our sleep but loved each other more, we woke before the sun and headed to a slightly dumpy Denny’s restaurant that smelled of smoke.  Every other Thursday morning at 6 AM.

They dared to ask us hard questions.  They loved us.  They were honest and real.  We carefully watched every aspect of their lives.  The way she took the time to write me letters, the handwritten kind on paper.  The way he looked at her even though they’d been together since they were 14.  The extremely humble way they lived and the way God always provided for them.   The fact they always ended our time together by praying for us.  The way they could bring any conversation back to Jesus.

In an Olive Garden parking lot that same year, he had prayed with my beau as he committed to becoming a Jesus follower.  Instead of judgement or impossible standards they loved us just as we were and led us on a journey of finding God’s best for our relationship.

Four years later, Aaron was a shoe-in as the officiant for our May wedding.  We sat dreamy eyed in his office for premarital counseling and were fairly sure we were headed for wedded bliss. Turns out we might have been a bit off, but twelve years later here we are.

Fast forward many years, our paths didn’t cross often but every time it did we were blessed.  He faithfully shares truth wrapped in love.  He doesn’t shy from hard conversations.  His tender, beautiful wife can make you feel like you are the only person in a crowded room and she is hearing every single word you say.

All this history to say that today we got to share lunch in our home with these precious ones and 6 of their amazing children.  I can’t really describe what a gift it was.  At one point I grabbed my old photo album (the one with some horrific mid nineties photos) and showed them their signatures.  As we had met with them all those years ago, we’d written up a covenant that we wanted to mark our relationship.  We’d all four signed it.  And I still had it in our living room.  It was dated April 1996.

I am sure that they probably didn’t expect us to get married one day.  Nobody figured we would.  They might not have guessed we’d be in ministry at a church before our wedding.    They likely didn’t have a clue what the return on their investment in our life would be. 

That is precisely why I had to share this.  We usually don’t.  Whoever we have the chance to love, to lead, to serve – we may not get to see what the payoff is.  And maybe it won’t be much.

But maybe it will be a lot.  A committed marriage, a table full of children or hearts that long to know God more.  You just never know the impact of your life and love.


Pat Sween

So very true – we can only be faithful to be God’s hands and feet to those in our path. I recently ran into a young woman (ok not so young but in my mind she still is!) at Value Village. She said in the aisle, “I will never forget when you and Jon invited me to Thanksgiving at your house when I was young and single. I couldn’t imagine why you asked me but I felt loved because of that.” That was 2 churches and 30 years ago! I so don’t remember that particular Thanksgiving but for a young, single woman tears came to her eyes 30 yrs later remembering how it felt to be included in family. May we have eyes to see what God puts in each of our todays.